(Zeru Hagos 08/20/09)
Hoping against hope that its quick acceptance of the claims award commission judgment will corner Ethiopia, the one man Eritrean regime has confirmed that it alone was the culprit for the war that consumed many lives on both sides. President Issayas may have accepted the latest verdict to enhance his international image but he should know what matters is what the people of Eritrea think about him and his government. Eritreans are not dying every day to cross to Ethiopia in search of virtual Badme! What they are yearning and searching for is real democracy and freedom to speak, assemble and elect and be elected. The claims commission’s judgment may be a disputable verdict, however, no one should have the illusion that neither the Ethio -Eritrea claim commission nor the border commission was in a position to solve the Ethio-Eritrea problem.
Eritrea invaded Ethiopia simply to coerce the EPRDF government to tip toe behind the self appointed “gortebel” (strong man) of the Horn- Issayas Afeworki. Issayas and his advisers were so intoxicated by Eritrea’s independence and thought they could bully and do all they want in the neighborhood. They invaded and remain the aggressors. They were begged and asked by westerners to remove their invading force for more than two years but to no avail. Thus, it is futile to think a commission of any kind will solve a problem that is deep rooted and fed by an inflated self image and ego. It will only find resolution if and only if Eritreans say enough is enough and begin a promising future.
Eritreans are leaving the country in mass. They are leaving their beloved country that they served and died for dearly for over 40 years in a cut throat struggle. I think such watershed moment will certainly trigger the resilient Eritreans to take matters into their own hands and fight for their freedom. The people of Eritrea and Ethiopia have the absolute power to bring change and right any wrongs done more than obscure judges seated somewhere in a foreign land can.
Issayas Afeworki may have quickly accepted the claim commission’s judgment with the hope that Ethiopia will succumb to the virtual border marking he has been claiming is the only legal venue, but it will remain a hope against hope.
Ethiopia is ready to sit down and work out the demarcation process. Ethiopia wants a lasting peace and has been asking for a long time for a partner. Issayas Afeworki is not an ideal partner for peace as we all know, yet, Ethiopia has said it will sit with him to dialogue! Ethiopia has no say in who governs or what kind of government Eritrea puts in place. It has time and again made it clear that it is the job of the Eritreans to determine the governance issue. What Ethiopia stands for and wants is a lasting peace. It is with such kind of clear policy and gesture that Ethiopia exerted itself to start the demarcation process. Issayas is only following a self destructive path with an amorphous hope and will remain that way, as the Amharic saying goes…lam alechin besemay wetetwanem alay! (I have a cow in heaven with no access to its milk) by believing foreigners will deliver him his promise land! Sit down and talk president Issayas! Else…
The critical mass that is needed to undo your government is gaining strength. You may have used the border issue to stifle reform when you last jailed long time friends. However, today Eritreans will not be hoodwinked by an excuse that the claim commission or border commission said this or that. The news coming from Asmara is somebody got shot today and somebody got lucky “ni hintita!”. Your’ barbaric rule must stop right here. Today’s reality dictates that the primary focus must be in creating peace and nurturing and nourishing the people and creating friendly neighborliness. It is high time that you adhere to that or leave office and allow the capable to govern Eritrea.
The fast growing economy in Ethiopia is demanding a huge hard currency. Although the economy is growing fast, export and import imbalance is also growing faster than local hard currency earning could handle. With the huge infrastructure projects and growing local consumer buying power it will not be a bad idea to ask the one man government to deposit the 10 million or so differential into the Ethiopian national account soon! It will help to silence the other distracters who are trying to stifle the Gilgel Gibe hydro power project by pressuring financial institutions ready to finance the project. Every bit helps!
In a serious note, I cannot understand what Issayas Afeworki’s problem is! Of all people he should have known the EPRDF well. He should have also known that no amount of arm twisting will convince the Ethiopian people living on the border to become Eritreans or leave their ancestral burial land simply to please him. Although no one can fault Issayas for gambling all his money on Badme to undo the EPRDF government, it is mind boggling how cruel he has become in almost sacrificing the whole of Eritrea. If he would lend me some ears I will scribble it out and say “WediAfom wake up and release Eritrea and Eritreans to save your legacy!”
Now that the claim commission has given the final judgment let us close this sad chapter of the Algiers agreement and move on. Ethiopians should continue developing their economy and nourishing their democratic process. Eritreans should stop and think hard if there is another solution to their problem before they leave their country behind to live as refugees somewhere else. Reclaim your country and your freedom, one more time! Say enough is enough!
With the growing economy in Ethiopia, Eritrea could benefit immensely if it can find ways to live in peace with all its neighbors! The roads to Port Sudan, Mombasa and Hargesa not to mention Djibouti are getting busy. It is stupid for any Eritrean government not to work hard to get its share of business instead of sitting near decaying and idle ports. The Horn region could escape the agonizing yesteryears if Eritrea could find its inner peace soon. Sudan seems determined to close its north south chapter and Somalia will follow Sudan if and when Issayas Afeworki stops aiding the terrorists.